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Understanding the Global Alcohol Festive Gifting Market

As a global agency we understand that there is no better way to understand local market nuances than on the ground research. It is the key to getting under the skin of the attitudes and behaviours of local consumers, therefore, enabling us to deliver truly meaningful brand experiences. As we rack up our air miles we are also making strides to expand our global brain network, working with partners like Retail in Action and Creative Culture. Most recently we worked alongside Creative Culture to do a deep dive into the global alcohol festive gifting market, with particular interest in dark markets (markets like Russia and Thailand that have restrictions on alcohol advertising and promotion). We wanted to discover how alcohol brands were activating festive gifting campaigns in retail and the third space, as well as gathering key learnings.

Festive celebrations are so steeped in cultural traditions, with the what’s, how’s and when’s varying dramatically between markets. Add on top of this the complexities of varying gifting cultures and there’s a lot to contend with in order to provide an experience that resonates in the right way. A couple of the numerous markets that we had on the ground strategists providing insight on were China and Russia, and we’d love to share some of our findings as well as a couple of best in class shopper activations.


A few key learnings:

  • As a Western tradition, Christmas only became a trend in the 1990’s and is considered a commercial event for Chinese consumers. However, Chinese New Year is more popular.
  • Christmas trees are very popular amongst brands in China and are often used to drive sales in shopping centres. Several brands like Fendi, 7Up and Mini (cars) have installed Christmas trees in the past.
  • When it comes to luxury products, personalisation is very much appreciated as it brings even more value to the gift.
  • Chinese consumers tend to shop for foreign products online on approved retailer e-shops, rather than buying in store, to ensure they are buying authentic products.


“Let your heart be heard”: A best in class shopper activation from Hennessy for the 2016 Chinese New Year

Hennessy V.S.O.P released a special edition gift pack for Chinese New Year and promoted it with a 2-week feature display and tasting event at Raffles shopping centre in Shanghai. An impressive structure grabbed shopper’s attention and they were invited to record their wishes for the New Year and for their loved ones. The voice message was transformed into a unique QR code and attached to the bottle. When the recipient of the gift scanned the QR code, they would hear the wish you made for them. The campaign was promoted on Weibo and relayed by the press to attract millennials.


A few key learnings:

  • Russians do not celebrate Christmas on the 25th like in Europe. For the most part, they have a week long New Year celebration (Orthodox Christmas), which normally lasts from January 1st to the 7th.
  • This time of year is traditionally related to lots of celebrations (and a significant hike in alcohol consumption). Family members and friends visit each other and share meals and gifts.
  • Russia’s 2015 ban on alcohol advertising prevents brands from promoting spirits, wines and beers above 5% across all media, including all printed materials.


Bulbash x Blippar: A best in class shopper activation for 2016

Belarusian vodka brand Bulbash introduced a New Year limited edition bottle with a twist by working alongside the app Blippar. The bottle allowed consumers to skip the tedious TV programs shown over the holiday period – and most notably on New Year’s Eve – in favour of an exclusive broadcast full of jokes, sketches and festive songs from well-known radio DJs and TV presenters. The gift won on two accounts, great entertainment and a delicious drink, all the recipient needed to do was scan a code on the bottle with their smartphone to start the broadcast.